“Heartbeat” is a medical drama television series based on the real life of Dr. Kathy Magliato ’85, a Union alumna. Elements of Magliato’s life are used in the series as described in her book “Healing Hearts (Heart Matters).”
The show stars Melissa George as Alex Panttiere, a world-renowned heart-transplant surgeon at the fictional St. Matthews Hospital in Los Angeles.
The show depicts her struggles in balancing her personal and professional life. The series premiered on March 22, 2016 on NBC. The series sticks out among the many medical dramas on television due to the strong female lead, Alex, who portrays Dr. Magliato herself.
Unlike other scripted medical dramas, each episode is based on true-life experiences that reflect those of Dr. Magliato. The focus of “Heartbeat” is solely on one woman in charge, rather than focusing on a group of medical professionals working together, a commonality seen in many medical dramas.
The show revolves around one of the few female cardio thoracic surgeons in the world, and even more amazingly, she is one of a handful of exclusive surgeons specially trained to perform heart transplants. She started right here at Union. Magliato graduated from Union in 1985 with a degree in biochemistry.
Men in the show don’t overpower the strong female lead or make her look incompetent in any way. They seem like they’re simply there for the romance aspect because when it comes to the heart of the show, it’s all about Alex: her patients, her choices and her life.
Alex Panttiere portrays the kind of doctor girls want to be. She’s tough, determined, doesn’t take anything from anyone and always tries to do what’s best for her patients, all while maintaining a sense of humor.
It’s hard not to like her when the inspiration behind her character is basically wonder woman- a relatable yet remarkable female who juggles the many realities of life and work.
Magliato’s memoir, “Healing Hearts (Heart Matters): A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon” tells the story of a surgeon in addition to being a wife and a mother. Dr. Magliato takes the audience with her into her particularly taxing, physically intense and male-dominated world and shows others how she expertly works to save lives every day.
The memoir also talks about some of the patients that Magliato has dealt with while addressing matters such as unrecognized symptoms of a heart attack, cardiovascular disease and what can be done to prevent these things from happening.
This memoir and television series highlight the enthusiasm and dedication that Dr. Magliato carries with her to her family and to her profession, striving to have it look completely effortless.